Calvin Coolidge was a great president not solely because he sought to limit the federal state, but because he did not feel a need to inject himself into the nation’s consciousness every single day. Donald Trump is the least Coolidge-like president we have ever had. Compared to him, Barack Obama looks like a Carthusian monk. Every morning Trump is in the United States is a morning during which he is drawing attention to himself.
The pattern is familiar: He wakes up, he picks up his phone, and he throws grenades onto Twitter—most of which, it should be said, rebound immediately off the wall and explode in his face. He announces policies in the most counter-productive way imaginable; he defends himself as might a cartoon character; he dredges up old fights and throws punches at skeletons. And then, of course, come the responses: Online, on Twitter, on TV, in the newspapers, in the magazines, on the streets, at the Oscars, at dinner tables across the land.
In effect, the president is deciding daily what America will discuss, and more often than not that “what” is him. Whatever one’s politics, this is extraordinarily unhealthy. The president is the head of the executive branch within a free republic, he is not a King or spiritual leader. When the government is as big as it is, we will inevitably be forced to care what he thinks.
But the attention that this man insists upon bringing upon himself transcends that inevitability, and ranges into the realm of narcissism and vaingloriousness. This is, in other words, a choice. It is a decision that Trump is making, day in, day out. Those who want to live their lives without constantly being dragooned into endless political hostility should band together and speak with one voice: “Mr. President. Please, please, please be quiet.”
Then there is Rod Dreher. His moral compass never allowed him to support Trump, but he is so alarmed by secular progressivism that he believes religious conservatives ought to withdraw into cloistered enclaves to protect their families and religious traditions, which he believes to be under existential threat from Democrats.
Here is his latest thinking:
My friend Ryan Booth is a white Evangelical, a former state GOP committee member, and one of the most sensible, upright people I know.
After this Sessions insanity, he writes: ‘Hillary would not have been worse, folks. As some of you know, I didn’t vote for either. But Donald Trump is an unstable lunatic. If he lasts until 2020, then I’ll likely end up voting for a Democrat for the first time in my life.’
I’m almost there with him.
I believe the Democratic Party today wants to do as much damage as it possibly can to social and religious conservatism. I believe the Democratic Party would empower some of the worst people in America. But at least you know what they’re going to do. Trump really is an unstable lunatic whose word means nothing, and who sees no higher obligation than serving himself. If he will do this to Jeff Sessions, there is no reason at all to expect that his next SCOTUS nomination will be Gorsuch II.
Maybe it will, but how do we know that?
These wildly diverse observers on the right are correct to fear that Trump will turn against them and any principle that they hold dear if the mere whim strikes his fancy. And the spin that attempts to lay blame on Trump underlings is comical. Anthony Scaramucci, the new White House communications director, suggested to Hugh Hewitt that White House staff is the problem.